Wednesday, May 2nd
3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Pantages Center Lobby
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Split the Difference?
For many cities, the establishment of a vibrant downtown is seen as an end in itself. Lively downtowns, though, create a whole new set of challenges--including issues of policing and security; noise; litter and trash; gentrification and displacement.
Lively downtowns feature a mix of uses that are split amongst different sets of people throughout a twenty-four hour day. The same building may have office space that is used during the day, a restaurant that is bustling in the evening and residential lofts that are occupied overnight. Sidewalks provide outdoor seating and public facilities, venues for street vendors and entertainers; sidewalks are the stages upon which urban life is played out. These ever-changing uses and crowds make such split-use districts hubs of activity that can lead to urban vitality--and conflicts.
Along with this growth comes the inevitable “growing pains” as more people move into downtown and more empty buildings are refurbished into restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The BIA recognizes that accommodating the influx of residents living in close proximity to hospitality zones requires a more efficient process to sustain the economic and social benefits of hospitality while reducing the potentially negative impacts on public safety and residents' quality of life. This end can be pursued through imposition of new, stricter municipal regulations--like those the City of Seattle is currently considering--or through a collaborative effort of the impacted parties.
We prefer the later course of action; accordingly, we're hosting a meeting tomorrow afternoon to gather interested parties and begin the dialog:
The primary goal for this meeting will be to help local businesses, residents and property owners create standards and expectations to reduce conflicts, establish a more objective mediation process and develop support systems for hospitality businesses. This approach is in line with other recent initiatives, like the Blue Ribbon Task Force, that emphasize the need for “good neighbor” agreements supported by municipal code.